The notion of a “forgotten literary treasure” is a complicated one. No such book is forgotten by everyone, so when we say that a forgotten book shold be remembered, what we really mean is that, however well-known it happens to be, it ought to be much better known.
With that caveat in mind, let me mention two (relatively recent) novels that I think are so wonderful that we should have parades for their authors.
The first is Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day
, a heartbreakingly beautiful about memory, loss, and the love of family. The paragraph near the end of the book that contains the title phrase is one of the loveliest and most memorable I know. I have read the book several times just to get to that gentle epiphany again, and to feel the full warmth and sweetness of it.
It’s generaly acknowledged, I think, that War and Peace
is the greatest historical novel ever written. Well, then, the second greatest is George Garrett’s The Succession
. And I totally mean that. That there aren’t ten copies of this book in every bookstore in the country is a source of grief to me. The book is just magnificent, a full and rich evocation of a full and rich world, that of the Elizabethans.
October 21, 2009